Saturday, September 26, 2015

In the critic wars of the sixties and seventies, no one emerged untarnished, particularly not Renata Adler

From Salon:
The veteran reporter, critic and novelist Renata Adler has published one of seven new books pegged to the New Yorker’s 75th anniversary in February. Unlike its cousins, however, Adler’s New Yorker memoir, “Gone,” is stirring up trouble. Last November, New York magazine reported that former New Yorker fiction editor and current New York Times Book Review editor Charles “Chip” McGrath had sent a letter of protest to Adler’s publisher after reading the galleys of “Gone.” Adler, McGrath said, had described him as participating in an event that never occurred.

The memoir’s veracity has also been called into question by another former New Yorker mandarin, Robert Gottlieb, who was the magazine’s editor from 1987 to 1992. While drawing comparisons between Lillian Ross’ “Here But Not Here,” and Adler’s memoirs, Gottlieb writes in this week’s New York Observer that “where Renata really trumps Lillian’s ace is in the matter of inaccuracy … She gores Lillian’s claims to plausibility, but her own book is riddled with errors, of varying degrees of importance and disingenuousness.”

According to Gottlieb, he never fired jazz writer Whitney Balliett, as Adler contends, nor did he hire writer Adam Gopnik, a particular target of Adler’s scorn and indignation. (In her memoir, Adler asserts that, “Under Bob Gottlieb, the magazine had begun seriously to slide.”)

And while Gottlieb’s article ticks off numerous mistakes that concern him directly, another New Yorker insider has gone so far as to draw up a comprehensive list of the book’s factual errors. One of the most egregious occurs when Adler writes, “For the months from January to August 1976, when President Nixon resigned, I virtually lost contact with the New Yorker.” Nixon resigned in 1974. And as Adam Goodheart points out in the New York Observer’s second article about “Gone,” Adler covered Nixon’s impeachment.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

COZI TV promos

I don't know that I have ever seen an ad campaign that does a worse job promoting their product.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Matinee Theater - Dark Of The Moon

You run across all sorts of interesting things on YouTube/

From Wikipedia

Dark of the Moon is a dramatic stage play by Howard Richardson and William Berney which had a ten-month run on Broadway in 1945, followed by numerous college and high-school productions.[1]

Set in the Appalachian Mountains and written in an Appalachian dialect, the play centers around the character of John, a witch boy who seeks to become human after falling in love with a human girl, Barbara Allen. Originally written by Howard Richardson in 1939 as a dramatization of the centuries old European folk song "The Ballad of Barbara Allen", it was first performed at the University of Iowa in 1942 under the title Barbara Allen.[1]

After a rewrite by Richardson's cousin, William Berney, it was presented at the 46th Street Theatre in New York City on March 14, 1945, directed by Robert E. Perry. Although Dark of the Moon is not a musical, it was originally billed as a "legend with music" and characters do sing in most productions.[1] Paul Newman and Richard Hart once played the role of John.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Richard Burton did not love lucy

From Burton's recently published diaries:

Those who had told us that Lucille Ball was ‘very wearing’ were not exaggerating. She is a monster of staggering charmlessness and monumental lack of humour. She is not ‘wearing’ to us because I suppose we refuse to be worn. I am coldly sarcastic with her to the point of outright contempt but she hears only what she wants to hear. She is a tired old woman [Ball was fifty-eight at the time] and lives entirely on that weekly show which she has been doing and successfully doing for 19 years. Nineteen solid years of double-takes and pratfalls and desperate up-staging and cutting out other people’s laughs if she can, nervously watching the ‘ratings’ as she does so. A machine of enormous energy, which driven by a stupid driver who has forgotten that a machine runs on oil as well as gasoline and who has neglected the former, is creaking badly towards a final convulsive seize-up. I loathed her the first day. I loathed her the second day and the third. I loathe her today but I also pity her.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

With friends like these.. Peter Bogdanovich and Citizen Kane

I've been thinking about the latest Sight and Sound poll and the surprising rise of Vertigo from relatively minor Hitchcock* to the "greatest film of all time." But there's another side to the story. Since 1962, the top film on the once a decade poll was Citizen Kane. Kane's fall to the number two spot is certainly less dramatic than Vertigo's rise, but if Kane has slipped in critical estimation, I wonder if some of the blame rests with Peter Bogdanovich.

Bogdanovich certainly didn't set out to undermine Kane. Orson Welles was one of Bogdanovich's closest friends, a fact that the younger director routinely referred to (if asked "do you want paper or plastic?" there's a better than even chance that Bogdanovich's answer would involve Welles). But Bogdanovich, for reasons too complicated to go into now, has made downplaying the role of William Randolph Hearst an integral part of his defense of Kane. Here, in an interview about the Cat's Meow, is a representative quote.

He also felt his film "could get closer to Hearst" than Welles ever did, chiefly because he claims Citizen Kane was not entirely based on the newspaper magnate. "It's what people can't get through their heads! It was a combination of characters. It wasn't just about Hearst. That's a misconception everybody has that has come from the press and the mythology and people getting it wrong."

I've never seen an interviewer call Bogdanovich on this, which is unfortunate for two reasons: first because it's very much in dispute and second because taking Hearst out of the picture guts the film's political context and undermines many of its best moments.

Citizen Kane is, of course, a work of fiction, not a docudrama and Charles Foster Kane is not supposed to be William Randolph Hearst. (Kane is probably closer to Hearst than Richard III is to the protagonist of Shakespeare's play, but that's a topic for another day.)

But while there are aspects of Kane based on other press lords (making his 'mistress' a singer instead of an actress for example), all of the thematically important similarities and most of the highly recognizable ones were purely Hearst (many of the best remembered moments -- "I'll provide the war" "I'll have to close this place in... 60 years" -- were taken directly from Hearst's bio).

The makers of Citizen Kane play against the persona of Hearst in a similar fashion to the way Condon plays with McCarthy in the Manchurian Candidate. The result is politically rich and incredibly economical film making (for example, the shot of Kane and Hitler played on Hearst's complicated history with the dictator, a relationship that would have been fresh in the minds of everyone in the original audience -- it was a big deal at the time).

By obscuring the context of the work, Bogdanovich has done more damage to Citizen Kane than Hearst and company ever managed.

* Wikipedia: "In the 1950s, the French Cahiers du cinéma critics began re-evaluating Hitchcock as a serious artist rather than just a populist showman. However, even François Truffaut's important 1962 interviews with Hitchcock (not published in English until 1967) mentions Vertigo only in passing"